US Ear Device Patents in July 2018

Telecommunications have come a long way since the days of party lines when Ernestine the operator routed calls to the right party while everyone listened in on the line. Forget about HIPAA: privacy wasn’t part of the deal. ID was by oral confirmation (“Yes, I’m the party to whom you’re speaking.”), all done while holding a heavy device to ear and mouth, tethered to a short leash. Hard to imagine, especially for those born in recent times who don’t know Lily Tomlin or her Ernestine character 1 .  But, it’s equally hard for most of us to imagine what Earable designs have in store for our future.

Bragi’s “Biometric Interface System and Method” patent (USPTO #10013542) handles privacy, communication and connectivity issues with a wireless Bluetooth in-the-ear device equipped with the requisite receiver, mic and processor. That’s just background for its new “Ernestine” security function, which endeavors to verify that you are indeed the right party being spoken to. The patent proposes to do this by adding an extra sensor to the ITE:  

“The processor … receive(s) fingerprint data from the sensor at a contact surface on the earpiece housing and analyze(s) the fingerprint data using stored fingerprint authentication data to make an authentication decision based on the fingerprint data. “

 

Now That We Know that You’re You, Are You OK?

 

Figure 1. Google In Ear Health monitoring system

That question is set to be answered preemptively by Google’s “In-Ear Health Monitoring” device (USPTO # 10016162), depicted in Fig 1.  It almost goes without saying that it’s a Hearable (the wearer “can listening to audio content through the device.” ) But it’s also a machine learning Earable which periodically samples the party’s temperature, develops an estimate of the party’s temperature differential, detects temperature variations consistent with contagious disease, and lets the party and the medical community know what’s up:

“Bob, we know it’s you. You’re sick, Bob. Pick up a prescription and go home. Don’t come back till we give you the green light. Bye.”  

You can see why correct identification of the party being measured and spoken to is of critical importance.

 

We Know It’s You and You’re OK, But Where’s Your Water Line?

 

Figure 2. Seescan utility detector.

It’s great to verify your identify and health by ear, but what about the important things in life, like underground power lines,  water leaks, and surveyors’ property markers?

Seescan’s Patent #10024994  “Wearable magnetic field utility locator system with sound field generation” (see Figure 2) hooks you up to your pipes, wires and markers before digging commences. It does this by detecting and communicating its findings via shoulder-mounted speakers. It’s just a quick step from shoulder pads to Earables, so expect this device to come out as an in-ear feature in future ite devices. 

 

The July Patent List

Description

Patent Number

Assignee

Issued

Fast computation of excitation pattern, auditory pattern and loudness

10013992

Arizona Board of Regents on Behalf of Arizona State University (Scottsdale, AZ)

7/03/2018

Biometric interface system and method

10013542

Bragi GmbH (Munchen, DE)

7/03/2018

Audio accelerometric feedback through bilateral ear worn device system and method

10015579

Bragi GmbH (Munchen, DE)

7/03/2018

Hearing device and monitoring system thereof

10015601

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

7/03/2018

Systems and methods for improving output signals from auditory prostheses

10015602

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University, AU)

7/03/2018

Fitting a bilateral hearing prosthesis system

10015605

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University, AU)

7/03/2018

Wearable device charger

D821970

Bragi GmbH (Munchen, DE)

7/03/2018

In-ear health monitoring

10016162

Google, LLC (Mountain View, Ca)

7/10/2018

Hearing device containing hidden FM-receiver antenna

10016306

3M Innovative Properties Company (St. Paul, MN)

7/10/2018

Mid-scalar electrode array

10016589

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)

7/10/2018

Portable and wearable composite dosimeter

10018733

Landauer, Inc. (Glenwood, IL)

7/10/2018

Listening to the frontend

10020004

Walmart Apollo, LLC (Bentonville, AR)

7/10/2018

Dome for a personal audio device

10021472

Sonion Nederland B.V. (Hoofddorp, NL)

7/10/2018

In-the-ear automatic-noise-reduction devices, assemblies, components, and methods

10021478

Avnera Corporation (Beaverton, OR)

7/10/2018

Suspension assembly for hearing aid receiver

10021493

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

7/10/2018

Hearing device with vibration sensitive transducer

10021494

Sonion Nederland B.V. (Hoofddorp, NL)

7/10/2018

Antenna for hearing device, ear tip and hearing device provided with such an antenna

10021495

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

7/10/2018

Method of manufacturing assemblies for hearing aids

10021498

Sonion A/S (Roskilde, DK)

7/10/2018

Sub tragus ear unit

D822644

Freebit AS (Oslo, NO)

7/10/2018

Headphone

D822645

Bragi GmbH (Munchen, DE)

7/10/2018

Wearable earpiece for providing social and environmental awareness

10024667

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (Plano, TX)

7/17/2018

Wearable magnetic field utility locator system with sound field generation

10024994

Seescan, Inc. (San Diego, CA)

7/17/2018

Methods and systems for extracting auditory features with neural networks

10026395

Applied Brain Research Inc. (Waterloo, CA)

7/17/2018

Hearing device with communication protection and related method

10027474

GN Hearing A/S (Ballerup, DK)

7/17/2018

Sound awareness hearing prosthesis

10028064

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University, AU)

7/17/2018

Methods, systems, and device for remotely-processing audio signals

10028065

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University, AU)

7/17/2018

Hearing aid configuration detection

10028066

GN Hearing A/S (Ballerup, DK)

7/17/2018

Indicator device for a hearing loop

10028067

AB Transistor Sweden (Sollentuna, SE)

7/17/2018

Earphone

D823835

Bragi GmbH (Munchen, DE)

7/24/2018

Methods and systems for reducing sound sensitivities and improving auditory processing, behavioral state regulation and social engagement behaviors

10029068

Polyvagal Science LLC (Chapel Hill , NC)

7/24/2018

Hearing prosthesis system having interchangeable housings

10029095

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University, AU)

7/24/2018

Channel selection systems and methods that employ temporal modification

10029096

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)

7/24/2018

Targeted channel selection systems and methods

10029097

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)

7/24/2018

System and method for wearable indication of personal risk within a workplace

10032352

International Business Machines Corporation (Armonk, NY)

7/24/2018

Method and system for suppressing noise in speech signals in hearing aids and speech communication devices

10032462

Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (Mumbai, IN)

7/24/2018

 

Mobile communication terminal, digital hearing aid, and method of controlling the digital hearing aid using the mobile communication terminal

10033846

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Suwon-si, KR)  (note: related patent 9100491 same title 8/4/2015)

7/24/2018

Class-D amplifier, audio processing apparatus and method of driving class-D amplifier

10034085

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Daejeon, KR)

7/24/2018

Audio signal processing for listening devices

10034087

Asius Technologies, LLC (Longmont, CO)

7/24/2018

Methods and apparatus for reducing ambient noise based on annoyance perception and modeling for hearing-impaired listeners

10034102

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

7/24/2018

Antenna unit

10034104

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

7/24/2018

Article with internal light source for fitting in-situ and related devices and methods

10034105

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

7/24/2018

Hearing aid comprising an insert member

10034106

Sonion Nederland B.V. (Hoofddorp, NL)

7/24/2018

Hearing aid

10034107

GN Hearing A/S (Ballerup, DK)

7/24/2018

Method for the fitting of a hearing aid, a system for fitting a hearing aid and a hearing aid

10034108

Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)

7/24/2018

Cochlear implant electrode insertion bridge

10034797

Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

7/31/2018

Automatic smoothed captioning of non-speech sounds from audio

10037313

Google, LLC (Mountain View, CA)

7/31/2018

Binaural cochlear implant processing

10038959

Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

7/31/2018

Hearing aid and plug-in connection for same

10038960

Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore, SG)

7/31/2018

Headphone

D824371

Bragi GmbH (Munchen, DE)

7/31/2018

References and Footnotes

1 Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine and other skits can be viewed on youtube and are well worth the watch.

 

Editor’s note:  Interested readers can click the following links for patents approved in June 2018, May 2018April 2018Q1 2018Nov/Dec 2017October 2017September 2017August 2017June/July 2017May 2017April 2017March 2017February 2017January 2017December 2016November 2016,  October 2016Sept 2016,  Jul/Aug 2016,  May/Jun 2016Mar/Apr 2016Jan/Feb 2016,  Nov/Dec 2015Sept/Oct 2015,  Jul/Aug 2015May/Jun 2015,  Mar/Apr 2015Jan/Feb 2015,  Nov/Dec 2014,  Sep/Oct 2014,  July/Aug 2014,  May/Jun 2014,  Mar/Apr 2014,  Jan/Feb 2014Nov/Dec 2013September/October 2013Jul/Aug 2013May/Jun 2013Mar/Apr 2013Jan/Feb 2013Nov/Dec 2012

 

Holly Hosford-Dunn, Hearing Health MattersHolly Hosford-Dunn, PhD, owned and operated a dispensing audiology practice in Tucson and was active in management of HearingHealthMatters.org through 2017.  She holds BA degrees in Communication Sciences, Psychology and Economics; MA in Communication Disorders; PhD in Hearing Sciences. Following post-doctoral work at Max Planck Institute (Munich, DE) and Eaton-Peabody Auditory Physiology Lab (Boston), she joined the Stanford medical school faculty as director of audiology. She has authored/edited numerous text books, chapters, journals, and articles and taught Marketing and Practice Management in a variety of academic settings. She continues to consult and write on topics related to hearing health care vis-à-vis consumer demands, professional training, technological advancement, capital investment, industry consolidation, regulatory control, product and service distribution, and strategic pricing.

About HHTM

HHTM's mission is to bridge the knowledge gaps in treating hearing loss by providing timely information and lively insights to anyone who cares about hearing loss. Our contributors and readers are drawn from many sectors of the hearing field, including practitioners, researchers, manufacturers, educators, and, importantly, hearing-impaired consumers and those who love them.

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